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from daijiworld's special correspondent

Panaji, Aug 20: Gays in Goa will put up a fight for legalization of their marriages with the male partners as the number of such marriages are on increase in this coastal state.

Facing severe social stigma, these couples clandestinely get married and at times, do not even, stay together. The NGO working towards welfare of men having sex with men (MSM) have decided to put up their case with the state government.

"During the last couple of years, in Goa itself, we have got married 25 such gay couples. They don't have social acceptance. The number of MSM is rising and also there is an increase in such marriages," stated Vishant Chodankar, trustee, Humsafar trust, Goa.

Humsafar Trust is the only NGO in Goa working towards MSM community. "Fearing social stigma and discrimination, we had to conduct all these marriages clandestinely," states Chodankar.

Goa hit the national news a few years back when a Goa-based internationally renowned male fashion designer solemnized his marriage with his male partner recording it to be the first gay marriage in India.

"Before that and even after that there are so many such marriages which take place. But with no valid legal support for such union, they have to hide their wedding," Chodankar stated.

Chodankar, who himself is married to another male partner, feels that the loyalty in gay marriages is much more than the heterosexual marriages. "Everything is same.. One partner does not like his partner sharing bed with someone else. If active partner gets married to a female, passive partner gets disappointed," he explained.

Sans any legality, social acceptance and fearing stigma, many partners meet during day time and live their life with the parents. "They are ready to come out in public with their relationship, if there is social acceptance," he said.

Besides bothered about the rights of MSM, the NGO is worried about their high susceptibility of diseases related to sex due to their anal sex practices. "Every year, we meet around 1,000 to 1,500 such new MSM in Goa itself. There will be so many, who are yet to be reached to. We have initiated exercise on warfront to educate MSM about high risk faced by them," Chodankdar said.

The group is looking forward to the national conference of MSM, commercial sex workers and groups working in the field of AIDS, wherein they will strongly put forth their demand to legalise gay marriages. "MSM are everywhere… Right from 18 years to 50 years, we have found MSM in the society. They are rubbished and socially unaccepted. We need government's help in legalizing such institution," Chodankar added. 


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